The role of marketing resources in radical innovation activity: antecedents and payoffs

While radical product innovations represent significant engines of firm growth, questions remain over whether marketing helps or hurts (1) a firm's radical product innovation activity and (2) its rewards from radical product innovation activity. By attaching an attention-based view of the firm to a market-based assets view of marketing, this paper examines the role of three marketing resources - market knowledge, reputation, and relational resources - on radical innovation activity. Our conceptual framework posits differentiated effects among marketing resources as antecedents of radical innovation activity and as moderators of its impact on firms' financial performance. Using a survey of a broad set of high-tech business-to-business (B2B) firms to test hypotheses, it is found that firms with strong relational resources enjoy a higher propensity for, and stronger financial rewards from, radical innovation activity. Reputational resources come with a trade-off as they hurt the incidence of radical innovation but enhance its financial rewards. However, market knowledge resources appear to hurt both radical innovation activity and its financial rewards. Our results point to the multifaceted role of marketing in radical innovation activity, which is unlikely to come with a single benefit or liability as prior work often posits. Rather, our research heightens the alertness of managers to assess their firms' marketing strength as a bundle of stocks of several marketing resources. Managers must understand the distinct benefits and drawbacks of each resource in developing and launching radical innovations. Our research underscores the differentiated value of marketing in radical innovation activity in B2B high-tech contrary to the entrenched idea of a limited or even stifling role of marketing in this context.